Heidelberg Geographer Professor Peter Meusburger Member of the New Club of Paris

4 07 2008
Prof. Dr. Peter Meusburger of the Institute of Geography, University of Heidelberg, is the first geographer to join the New Club of Paris — Organisation modelled on the Club of Rome
Heidelberg Geographer Professor Peter Meusburger Member of the New Club of Paris  
In late May 2008, Prof. Dr. Peter Meusburger (Institute of Geography, University of Heidelberg) was the first geographer to become a member of the New Club of Paris. The New Club of Paris is modelled on the Club of Rome and is concerned with the links between intellectual capital and economic development, the compilation of knowledge balances, learning organisations and the transfer of knowledge in networks, and many other issued posed by the knowledge society.

The New Club of Paris was founded on the occasion of a conference organised by the Paris office of the World Bank in summer 2005 and can justly be regarded as the continuation of the activities of the High-Level Expert Group on Intellectual Capital Reporting, a team of experts set up by the Commission of the EU in 2005 to work on the subject of “Intellectual Capital and Knowledge Balances”.

The economics of non-material values (human skills, creative processes, education, training and qualification levels, intellectual and social capital, organisation cultures, etc.) has a bearing both on micro- and macro-economic dimensions. A knowledge-based economy has repercussions on the value-creation process, changes the organisation of work and creates new forms of intellectual exchange and cooperation across geographical boundaries. It increasingly enhances the status and significance of enterprise-oriented services but at the same time leads to new dependencies and disparities. Most of these issues have hitherto been investigated without specific reference to the spatial dimension, spatial differences or the significance of the spatial context.

The projects organised by Professor Meusburger and his team are designed to close this research gap. For some 30 years now they have engaged largely with spatial disparities displayed by various forms of knowledge, competence and qualification identifiable at spatial micro-, meso- and macro-levels. How do spatial concentration processes occur in connection with the jobs of high-ranking decision-makers and experts? Why has the internet failed to produce the “global village” prophesied by some informatics experts and economists, in which knowledge is freely available from the net and physical locations lose their significance? Why has almost every new invention in the field of telecommunications led to a reinforcement rather than a reduction of regional knowledge differences?

Why does the spatial dissemination of various forms of knowledge fail to function in the way it was generally assumed it would? What are the migration patterns of highly qualified and poorly qualified people? Why does it take so long for certain scientific findings to be accepted (with Max Planck it took 11 years)? What significance does the spatial context have for the evolution, promotion or hindrance of creative processes and innovations? How have the links between knowledge and power evolved in the course of history and what repercussions do they have on development disparities between centres and peripheries?

How should various competencies, communication flows and decision-making powers be distributed in an organisation to ensure that the organisation remains adaptive and competitive? How is so-called orientational knowledge or the cultural memory of a society manipulated by powerholders? Does indigenous knowledge (knowledge passed on orally by aboriginals) have any prospects of survival in a modern society? How do scientific networks come about and what effects do they have?

These and other issues are also under discussion in ten symposia taking place between 2006 and 2010 at the Villa Bosch in Heidelberg with financial support from the Klaus Tschira Foundation. The results are being published in a new series by the Springer Verlag publishing house under the title “Knowledge and Space”. The first volume (“Clashes of Knowledge”) has already appeared, four further volumes (“Milieus of Creativity”, “Geographies of Science”, “Cultural Memories” and “Knowledge and Economy”) are at the pre-publication stage (for more information go to Five symposia are under way.

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Please address any inquiries to
Prof. Dr. Peter Meusburger

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Public Information Officer
University of Heidelberg

Irene Thewalt
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

Editor: Email